With Washington lawmakers still debating gun-control measures, the politically powerful National Rifle Association elected as its next president an Alabama lawyer who last year called Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. "rabidly un-American."

James "Jim" Porter II, a special assistant attorney general for Alabama, will take over leadership during the NRA’s annual meeting in Houston, which included speeches May 3 by Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Porter, whose father was a former NRA president, has been volunteering as a legal adviser and counsel to the NRA in federal court litigation, the group said in a statement May 2.

He takes over the position from lawyer and longtime Washington political adviser David Keene, who told the Washington Times that Porter is a "superb attorney" who will ask courts to undo the restrictions placed on gun owners’ rights in New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Colorado.

"Our focus now will shift to the courts to make sure these states’ laws are scaled back to be consistent with the McDonald and Heller decision. Jim is perfect to lead that effort because of his ability and experience running a legal team," Keene told the Washington Times.

In Washington, the gun-control debate is reigniting. The White House and Senate Democrats are planning another push for legislation that Republicans blocked in April. Holder has been a vocal part of the administration’s fight, and drew concerns from the NRA even during his confirmation.

Porter criticized Holder again last year in a speech to the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association posted on YouTube, as first reported by ThinkProgress.

"What else do I need to say about Eric Holder other than the fact that by God, obviously, we ain’t smart enough for him to brainwash us, ’cause he says that’s what they need to do," Porter said on the video. "’We just need to brainwash these people and get that gun thinking out of their mind.’ That’s what the man said. Rabidly anti-gun. Rabidly un-American."

Holder has given a number of speeches this year on gun-control measures. "Not one will infringe upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and gun owners," Holder said during a February speech to the National Association of Attorneys General. "And all are essential parts of any serious, comprehensive effort to combat gun violence — and to prevent dangerous people from acquiring, and wreaking havoc with, deadly weapons."

Greenberg Traurig is advocating for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action on firearms and gun-control legislation, according to lobbying registration paperwork the firm filed with Congress. Michael Williams, a senior director at the firm, is handling the account. He joined Greenberg Traurig in 2001 after more than 11 years as an in-house lobbyist at the NRA.

Todd Ruger is a reporter for The National Law Journal, a Legal affiliate based in New York. This article first appeared on The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times. •